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Parliament passes electoral changes

Electoral changes
People unable to make it to poll booths due to COVID-19 can use phone voting in the 2022 election. Photo: AAP
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Voters impacted by COVID-19 in the lead up to election day will be able to take part over the phone after new laws passed parliament on Wednesday.

The change came as part of three amendments to electoral laws.

This includes banning foreign campaigners from authorising electoral matters or fundraising more than $1000 per financial year.

Penalties for misleading someone casting their vote will also be increased.

A COVID contingency arrangement for the 2022 election will allow voters who may have to isolate or quarantine on election day to use the Australian Electoral Commission’s telephone voting system.

Telephone voting is currently used for blind and low-vision voters as well as voters in Antarctica.

Communications Minister Paul Fletcher told parliament it was the government’s preference for people to use in person or postal voting for the federal election where available.

“This bill provides additional means when those options are not available due to COVID-19 isolation requirements during the final 72 hours before polling day,” he said.

Labor backbencher Peter Khalil said while many of the amendments might seem minor, they all add up.

“They ensure Australia … keeps building the robustness of our democracy,” he told parliament.

– AAP